Kansas City. Unless you’re from the area, you probably aren’t familiar with the wonders to be experienced here. It probably doesn’t register on most people’s radar as “Major US City” (it is near the bottom of the 40 largest list) but 500,000 people can’t be wrong, it’s a good place to live. Missouri must like to share, because like its other major city (St Louis), it bleeds across the state border into Kansas (especially when you take into account some of Kansas City’s nicer suburbs like Lenexa and Overland Park, which lie southwest of the city).
One of my favorite parts of KC is the Plaza, which holds several good memories for me, including the lighting of the city’s Christmas Lights the day after Thanksgiving 2005, some really good dates, and in my opinion the best Urban Outfitters clearance section I’ve ever shopped. The plaza has some of the region’s only locations for stores like Banana Republic, Restoration Hardware, and American Apparel, and restaurants like PF Chang’s. Sometimes its nice for a city slicker like me to spend a day among retail affluence (although I can’t really afford to shop in these kinds of places anyway)–its a nice break from the small-town life I now lead.
However, one interesting thing about this city (and other cities too, naturally), is how abruptly one goes from “good” neighborhood to “bad” neighborhood, back to “good” while driving in one direction without changing roads. On our way to The Plaza we experienced this shift at least five times in only a few miles.
The last thing I want to rave about is the City Market and the adjacent Steamboat Arabia museum. I was shown the City Market once on a tour but as it was the tail end of winter, it wasn’t open–all I got to see was the location and the empty stalls. Before our trip, however, I did a little more research, confirmed that it was open, and we had lunch at an Arabic restaurant. Mmmmm, schwarma ;) In addition to the Arabic restaurant and connected Arabic store and sidewalk market, there were Italian and African grocery stores and across the street two Asian Groceries (we did not make it to the Asian stores). The whole world in one city block!
The Steamboat museum came highly recommended by Doug’s parents and, contrary to my initial skepticism, it was amazing!! The story behind it was that in the 1830s a steamboat sunk and the boat and all its cargo were preserved underneath the claylike mud. Now that its been excavated, much of the cargo (an astonishing amount of stuff) is still like new! Very, very, interesting and indicative of pioneer life–literally everything that would have been sold in a fronteir general store was on this boat and has been preserved as a snapshot.